High Above the Nightmare

Today was better in some ways. I flew in a seaplane high above the ground level of the destruction. The first 30 mins of the flight out of Baton Rouge were peaceful. I watched as a soccer team in white uniforms practiced against the field of lush green grass. Their movement as a team across the field was evident and brought new meaning to the words poetry in motion.

Later as we crossed a swamp basin I saw what I thought was the same thing only this time it was a flock of white egrets moving across the emerald canopy of the swamp. I started to draw parallels in my mind between the two but found that the visual beauty of both was plenty enough for today.

As we crossed over the lake I prepared myself for what I would see. Just as the day before the west side of the city was dry. But I would have never imagined the expanse of the flooding on the east side. I honestly didn't even know New Orleans was that large. Block after block, neighborhood after neighborhood, mile after mile it was the same thing.... black water. Even at a 1000 ft you can smell the stench of the rotting fauna and flora.

As we crossed the city and left it and the black water behind we found another kind of blackness. Crude. Hundreds of thousands of barrels spilled out of their containment tanks and flowed out across the canals, rivers and marshes of Plaquemines Parish.

The storm surge was so strong and deep that it actually floated the tanks and crushed them when the tide fell and they settled back to earth... sometimes miles from thier original locations.

Freshwater marshes were destroyed... killed by the saltwater that rushed up from the coast by Katrina nearly two weeks before. The rotting vegetation will cause the oxygen level to drop which will kill off millions of fish and once it has all rotted the marsh can begin to rebuild itself.

Its pretty amazing what nature can do to replenish itself if man will just stay out of the way and let it take its course. But like the mighty Mississippi itself sometimes that course is not what we want. When we try to control it we often do more damage than we could ever think possible.